California Law Mandates Women on Corporate Boards

California has become the first state in the country to mandate that women be included on the board of directors of publicly traded companies.

Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law that every California-based corporation should have at least one woman on its board of directors by the end of next year.

By the end of 2021, a board of directors with five members will be required to have at least two female members and larger boards will require three or more.

“One-fourth of California’s publicly traded companies still do not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive,”Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the bill’s author, told The Wall Street Journal.

Jackson said the companies, despite being urged to add women to their boards, have done nothing to increase the numbers, making government intervention necessary.

Brown said it might be difficult to enforce the law. “Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message,” he said.

The law mandates that companies that ignore the issue can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for subsequent violations. Companies also must inform the California secretary of state of the gender representation on their boards. If they fail to report, they would face another $100,000 fine.

Some European countries already mandate female representation on company boards. The European Commission is pushing for that quota to be as high as 40 percent.

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Nobel Prizes Still Struggle With Wide Gender Disparity

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet but the aura of this year’s announcements has been dulled by questions over why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences.

The march of Nobel announcements begins Monday with the physiology/medicine prize.

Since the first prizes were awarded in 1901, 892 individuals have received one, but just 48 of them have been women. Thirty of those women won either the literature or peace prize, highlighting the wide gender gap in the laureates for physics, chemistry and physiology/medicine. In addition, only one woman has won for the economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel but is associated with the prizes.

Some of the disparity likely can be attributed to underlying structural reasons, such as the low representation of women in high-level science. The American Institute of Physics, for example, says in 2014, only 10 percent of full physics professorships were held by women.

But critics suggest that gender bias pervades the process of nominations, which come largely from tenured professors.

“The problem is the whole nomination process, you have these tenured professors who feel like they are untouchable. They can get away with everything from sexual harassment to micro-aggressions like assuming the woman in the room will take the notes, or be leaving soon to have babies,” said Anne-Marie Imafidon, the head of Stemettes, a British group that encourages girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It’s little wonder that these people aren’t putting women forward for nominations. We need to be better at telling the stories of the women in science who are doing good things and actually getting recognition,” she said.

Powerful men taking credit for the ideas and elbow grease of their female colleagues was turned on its head in 1903 when Pierre Curie made it clear he would not accept the physics prize unless his wife and fellow researcher Marie Curie was jointly honored. She was the first female winner of any Nobel prize, but only one other woman has won the physics prize since then.

More than 70 years later, Jocelyn Bell, a post-graduate student at Cambridge, was overlooked for the physics prize despite her crucial contribution to the discovery of pulsars. Her supervisor, Antony Hewish, took all of the Nobel credit.

Brian Keating, a physics professor at the University of California San Diego and author of the book “Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor,” says the Nobel Foundation should lift its restrictions on re-awarding for a breakthrough if an individual has been overlooked. He also says posthumous awards also should be considered and there should be no restriction on the number of individuals who can share a prize. Today the limit is three people for one prize.

“These measures would go a long way to addressing the injustice that so few of the brilliant women who have contributed so much to science through the years have been overlooked,” he said.

Keating fears that simply accepting the disparity as structural will seriously harm the prestige of all the Nobel prizes.

“I think with the Hollywood #MeToo movement, it has already happened in the film prizes. It has happened with the literature prize. There is no fundamental law of nature that the Nobel science prizes will continue to be seen as the highest accolade,” he said.

This year’s absence of a Nobel Literature prize , which has been won by 14 women, puts an even sharper focus on the gender gap in science prizes.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, said it would not pick a winner this year after sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals rocked the secretive panel, sharply dividing its 18 members, who are appointed for life. Seven members quit or distanced themselves from academy. Its permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, said the academy wanted “to commit time to recovering public confidence.”

The academy plans to award both the 2018 prize and the 2019 prize next year — but even that is not guaranteed. The head of the Nobel Foundation, Lars Heikensten, has warned that if the Swedish Academy does not resolve its tarnished image another group could be chosen to select the literature prize each year.

Stung by criticism about the diversity gap between former prize winners, the Nobel Foundation has asked that the science awarding panels for 2019 ask nominators to consider their own biases in the thousands of letters they send to solicit Nobel nominations.

“I am eager to see more nominations for women so they can be considered,” said Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and vice chairman of the Nobel Foundation. “We have written to nominators asking them to make sure they do not miss women or people of other ethnicities or nationalities in their nominations. We hope this will make a difference for 2019.”

It’s not the first time that Nobel officials have sought diversity. In his 1895 will, prize founder Alfred Nobel wrote: “It is my express wish that in the awarding of the prizes no consideration shall be given to national affiliations of any kind, so that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.”

Even so, the prizes remained overwhelmingly white and male for most of their existence.

For the first 70 years, the peace prize skewed heavily toward Western white men, with just two of the 59 prizes awarded to individuals or institutions based outside Europe or North America. Only three of the winners in that period were female.

The 1973 peace prize shared by North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho and American Henry Kissinger widened the horizons — since then more than half the Nobel Peace prizes have gone to African or Asian individuals or institutions.

Since 2000, six women have won the peace prize.

After the medicine prize on Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the Nobel in physics on Tuesday and in chemistry on Wednesday, while the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. On Oct. 8, Sweden’s Central Bank announces the winner of the economics prize, given in honor of Alfred Nobel.

 

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Nobel Prizes Still Struggle with Wide Gender Disparity

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet but the aura of this year’s announcements has been dulled by questions over why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences.

The march of Nobel announcements begins Monday with the physiology/medicine prize.

Since the first prizes were awarded in 1901, 892 individuals have received one, but just 48 of them have been women. Thirty of those women won either the literature or peace prize, highlighting the wide gender gap in the laureates for physics, chemistry and physiology/medicine. In addition, only one woman has won for the economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel but is associated with the prizes.

Some of the disparity likely can be attributed to underlying structural reasons, such as the low representation of women in high-level science. The American Institute of Physics, for example, says in 2014, only 10 percent of full physics professorships were held by women.

But critics suggest that gender bias pervades the process of nominations, which come largely from tenured professors.

“The problem is the whole nomination process, you have these tenured professors who feel like they are untouchable. They can get away with everything from sexual harassment to micro-aggressions like assuming the woman in the room will take the notes, or be leaving soon to have babies,” said Anne-Marie Imafidon, the head of Stemettes, a British group that encourages girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It’s little wonder that these people aren’t putting women forward for nominations. We need to be better at telling the stories of the women in science who are doing good things and actually getting recognition,” she said.

Powerful men taking credit for the ideas and elbow grease of their female colleagues was turned on its head in 1903 when Pierre Curie made it clear he would not accept the physics prize unless his wife and fellow researcher Marie Curie was jointly honored. She was the first female winner of any Nobel prize, but only one other woman has won the physics prize since then.

More than 70 years later, Jocelyn Bell, a post-graduate student at Cambridge, was overlooked for the physics prize despite her crucial contribution to the discovery of pulsars. Her supervisor, Antony Hewish, took all of the Nobel credit.

Brian Keating, a physics professor at the University of California San Diego and author of the book “Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor,” says the Nobel Foundation should lift its restrictions on re-awarding for a breakthrough if an individual has been overlooked. He also says posthumous awards also should be considered and there should be no restriction on the number of individuals who can share a prize. Today the limit is three people for one prize.

“These measures would go a long way to addressing the injustice that so few of the brilliant women who have contributed so much to science through the years have been overlooked,” he said.

Keating fears that simply accepting the disparity as structural will seriously harm the prestige of all the Nobel prizes.

“I think with the Hollywood (hash)MeToo movement, it has already happened in the film prizes. It has happened with the literature prize. There is no fundamental law of nature that the Nobel science prizes will continue to be seen as the highest accolade,” he said.

This year’s absence of a Nobel Literature prize, which has been won by 14 women, puts an even sharper focus on the gender gap in science prizes.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, said it would not pick a winner this year after sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals rocked the secretive panel, sharply dividing its 18 members, who are appointed for life. Seven members quit or distanced themselves from academy. Its permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, said the academy wanted “to commit time to recovering public confidence.”

The academy plans to award both the 2018 prize and the 2019 prize next year _ but even that is not guaranteed. The head of the Nobel Foundation, Lars Heikensten, was quoted Friday as warning that if the Swedish Academy does not resolve its tarnished image another group could be chosen to select the literature prize every year.

Stung by criticism about the diversity gap between former prize winners, the Nobel Foundation has asked that the science awarding panels for 2019 ask nominators to consider their own biases in the thousands of letters they send to solicit Nobel nominations.

“I am eager to see more nominations for women so they can be considered,” said Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and vice chairman of the Nobel Foundation. “We have written to nominators asking them to make sure they do not miss women or people of other ethnicities or nationalities in their nominations. We hope this will make a difference for 2019.”

It’s not the first time that Nobel officials have sought diversity. In his 1895 will, prize founder Alfred Nobel wrote: “It is my express wish that in the awarding of the prizes no consideration shall be given to national affiliations of any kind, so that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.”

Even so, the prizes remained overwhelmingly white and male for most of their existence.

For the first 70 years, the peace prize skewed heavily toward Western white men, with just two of the 59 prizes awarded to individuals or institutions based outside Europe or North America. Only three of the winners in that period were female.

The 1973 peace prize shared by North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho and American Henry Kissinger widened the horizons _ since then more than half the Nobel Peace prizes have gone to African or Asian individuals or institutions.

Since 2000, six women have won the peace prize.

After the medicine prize on Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the Nobel in physics on Tuesday and in chemistry on Wednesday, while the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. On Oct. 8, Sweden’s Central Bank announces the winner of the economics prize, given in honor of Alfred Nobel.

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Cameroon President Launches Campaign on Northern Border

Cameroon president Paul Biya says he has successfully pushed the militant group  Boko Haram beyond Cameroon’s borders and urgently needs to be re-elected in the October 7 presidential poll so he can rebuild what was destroyed. Biya was in the northern town of Maroua in one of his rare outings from his presidential palace to launch his campaigns for the presidential election.

Women dressed in President Paul Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party attire sing Saturday to welcome Paul Biya to Maroua. They are assuring Biya that they will vote for him to lead Cameroon in a new seven year mandate beginning October 7.

More than 30,000 people ferried by the CPDM party from all over northern Cameroon are present in Maroua. Biya’s campaign photos can be seen everywhere in the town.

Paul Biya told them he has come to give his assurances of his love for the people of northern Cameroon.

He said he has decided to visit Maroua as a sign of the high esteem he has for the people of Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria and because he wants to inform them of the new opportunities he will offer when re-elected.

He said he cherishes the people of far north Cameroon because they resisted the destruction, burning and killing by the barbaric group Boko Haram and now that terrorism has been defeated, it is time to create conditions for a return to normal economic, administrative and social life.

Paul Biya said he will improve agriculture, start the exploration of what he said was the rich natural resources of the region and build a rail line to link north Cameroon and Chad to spur economic activity now that peace has returned and Boko Haram has been defeated.

As Biya and his crowd of over 30,000 met at the Lamido Yaya Dairou Municipal Stadium, about 200 supporters of opposition candidate Maurice Kamtos of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement Party (CRM)  campaigned on the outskirts of Maroua.

Yimnyo Mamadou who leads the campaign rally said Paul Biya was deceiving the masses. He said Biya has been responsible for the underdevelopment of Cameroon. He accuses Biya of not being sensitive to the needs of his people and hardly visits them.  

He said Biya has distracted Cameroonians for 36 years and it is high time the people are told the truth and made to understand that Biya has not provided an enabling environment for their education, has not provided basic needs such as water and does not pay civil servants well. He said Biya should be truthful to himself and acknowledge that Cameroon is in a pitiful state.

Paul Biya who is likely to win at the the polls  has not announced that he will visit other regions of the country where there is or has been unrest.

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S. Sudanese Surgeon to Use Nansen Award to Aid War Victims

Winner of this year’s UNHCR Nansen Award, South Sudanese surgeon, Evan Atar Adaha, says he will use the Award’s $150,000 cash prize to upgrade his ill-equipped hospital, so he can save more lives.  Atar will be honored for two-decades of medical services to victims of war and persecution at an official ceremony Monday.

Evan Atar Adha and a team of doctors, nurses and midwives work in Maban hospital in Bunj, a town of more than 200,000 people in northeastern South Sudan.  Atar said his hospital, which lies in the midst of a war zone, lacks even the most basic equipment and supplies.  He told VOA the challenges facing him, and his team are enormous.

“The resources of this award are going to really help us do better because we obviously will be able to get some equipment and some machines that we need like anesthetic machine, x-ray.”

Atar said the team at Maban hospital carries out an average of 58 surgeries a week with only a single light in the surgical theater.  He said electricity is provided by generators that often break down.  The hospital itself, he said has room for only 120 beds.  This is not enough so, people sleep on the verandah—wherever there is space.

“Our maternity, if you like has 30 beds and we are putting two mothers in one bed…So, with this—if we are able to expand maternity, I will be so happy.”

For the past two decades, Atar has provided medical aid for thousands of refugees, internally displaced, wounded fighters and local communities at great personal sacrifice.  He sees his wife and four children in Nairobi, Kenya three times a year.  Yet, he said he has no plans to retire.

“I will work for another 20 years.  I think as long as I am seeing I am needed in the place… I will not go from there until I make sure things are really settled in the end and the only hope for that is actually peace.  If peace comes to South Sudan and Sudan.”

Nansen winner Atar told VOA he will be happy when he is no longer needed.

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Indonesia: Death Toll of More Than 800 Likely to Rise

Indonesian officials say they fear the death toll from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami could soar into the thousands when rescuers are able to get to remote areas.

There were 832 confirmed deaths late Sunday with the city of Palu on Sulawesi island the hardest hit.

The airport is barely functioning, most power plants have been knocked off-line, and roads are shattered and twisted.

Touring Palu Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said one of the immediate needs is to bring in the heavy equipment needed to move large pieces of rubble.

“We didn’t expect it to be like this. So we hope and pray for the communities and be patient,” he told disaster victims. “We know that there are a lot of things to do urgently, but the condition is not now possible.”

He told soldiers deployed to the area to be ready to work nonstop.

Television pictures from Palu show buildings, cars and trees pushed together to form shingle mounds of wreckage.

A young woman was pulled out alive from the rubble of Palu’s collapsed Roa Roa Hotel. But rescuers say the number of other voices crying for help gradually dwindled throughout Sunday and are now silent.

In Pictures: Earthquake, Tsunami Strike Sulawesi Island

Security officials appear to be doing little to stop looters from grabbing food and supplies from wrecked shopping centers

The 7.5-magnitude quake triggered a huge tsunami with waves as high as 6 meters, which inundated the cities of Palu and Donggala.

Authorities say hundreds of people were on the beach in Palu for a festival when the earthquake and tsunami struck, sweeping many away to their deaths when the giant waves arrived.

Indonesia had been working with the U.S. National Science Foundation on a prototype tsunami early warning system that picks up changes in the water column on the ocean floor.

But the project was put on hold last week, apparently because the recent devaluation of the Indonesian currency created concerns in Indonesia about how to pay for its share of the project.

Professor Louise Comfort of the University of Pittsburgh is the lead U.S. scientist for the early detection project.

Comfort calls it “heartbreaking” that if Indonesia had come up with just another $50,000 to keep the prototype operating, hundreds and maybe thousands of lives could have been saved.

“I am profoundly disappointed, profoundly disappointed,” she tells VOA. “We have Indonesian researchers who have been working valiantly for 10 years trying to get a system like this in place … this is particularly painful for me.”

Because the system was not operating, Comfort said officials had no direct measurement of changes in the water caused by the earthquake and had to depend on less-sensitive, land-based systems.

Indonesia and its 18,000 islands are located along the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” and are frequently struck by earthquake, volcano and tsunami activity.

A 9.1-magnitude quake in 2004 off Sumatra and subsequent tsunami killed about 230,000 people in 14 Pacific countries, with about half of those deaths occurring in Indonesia.

Ira Mellman and Ken Schwartz contributed to this report.

 

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